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Press review: Kiev using NATO’s playbook against Donbass and Chinese cars conquer Russia

Top stories from the Russian press on Monday, September 13th

Kommersant: Analysts forecast outcome of Russia’s upcoming parliamentary elections

Sociologists and experts are publishing the latest forecasts for the State Duma election since beginning on Tuesday they won’t be able to do so by law. Pollsters from the Civil Society Development Foundation think that United Russia may get 42-46% of the votes and the Communist Party may garner 17-19%. Sociologists from Russia’s Communist Party have a different outlook, they believe that the gap between the two parties is minimal. All experts concur that the constitutional majority of United Russia will depend on its success in single-member districts as well as on smaller parties crossing the parliamentary threshold.

The Civil Society Development Foundation presented its predictions for the upcoming State Duma election. It estimated that United Russia will receive 42-46% with 17-19% going to the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) garnering 11-13% and Fair Russia - For Truth receiving 7-9%. The foundation notes that both New People and the Party of Pensioners have a chance of getting into the parliament since both can count on 3.5-5%, while the foundation’s head Konstantin Kostin explained that the parties would be unable to cross the 5% threshold simultaneously.

According to a poll conducted by the Center for Political Culture Research jointly with the Communist Party, United Russia would have received 23% of all those polled, while the Communist Party would have clinched 20%, and LDPR - 7%, with 5% going to A Just Russia - For Truth and New People each.

Analysts from the Petersburg Policy foundation think that four to six parties may make it into the State Duma, including the Party of Pensioners. A multiparty outcome may emerge from voters having become tired of "old" parties, while the high resistance of the administrative system and low profile of smaller parties may be against it.


Izvestia: Taliban quietly forms far from inclusive new government

The Taliban (outlawed in Russia) decided against an inauguration ceremony of the new government on September 11. Nevertheless, this date was precisely the day when the Taliban raised its flag at the presidential palace in Kabul. Earlier, the Taliban sent invitations to the inauguration to Turkey, China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Qatar, the countries that participated in dialogue with the movement one way or another although not one of them clearly agreed to take part in the ceremony. Last week, Inamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban's cultural commission, said the ceremony was cancelled. Russian Ambassador to Kabul Dmitry Zhirnov also noted that the Taliban had too much work to do and that they had no time for ‘fanfare’ or the inauguration.

Yet it was precisely on September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001 in the US, when the Taliban flag was hoisted above the presidential palace. The new government numbers 33 people, almost all of them being ethnic Pashtuns, (just three are ethnic Tajiks and one Uzbek), and even so they cooperated in one way or another with the movement in the past. Thus, despite the Taliban’s loud promises that the incoming government would be inclusive, it does not include members of the previous administration, nor many ethnic and religious minorities.

Marvin Weinbaum of Washington’s Middle East Institute told the newspaper that as for the Taliban’s promises of an inclusive regime, it was never serious, at least if it meant sharing power with anyone other than the veterans of the movement. What the Taliban mean by inclusiveness is that they would not reject any elements of Afghan society that want to submit to their new political order. Andrei Serenko, an expert at the Center for Contemporary Afghan Studies, noted that a number of groups and factions within the movement itself did not get included in the new government. "Additionally, Iran’s Taliban members did not get into Afghanistan’s government. That is why Iran’s rhetoric became very harsh lately. For example, [Iran’s former President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad noted that such a non-inclusive government was inadmissible and recently Tehran demanded an investigation into the participation of Pakistan’s air force in the Panjshir operation. And this is only the beginning," he explained.

The promise to involve women in the government also went unfulfilled. A number of Afghanistan’s provinces held protests against violations of women’s rights.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Kiev bombards Donbass using game plan of NATO’s war against Yugoslavia

On Saturday, drones struck fuel storage facilities at an oil depot in Donetsk’s Kirovsky district, destroying some 1,300 tonnes of fuel, and wiping out a month’s worth of supplies for the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and its militia. DPR representative Daniil Bezsonov reported that this was "the third case of this type of terrorist attack" in a week. Experts think that Kiev has started employing hybrid military methods that the US and NATO had used against Yugoslavia in 1999.

Last week, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Alexei Danilov stated that Kiev’s armed forced were ready "to take Donetsk and Lugansk," while Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky acknowledged the possibility of a full-scale war with Russia. The Zelensky administration ramped up its military rhetoric right when Russia and Belarus started joint their Zapad-2021 strategic drills, which Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba deemed to be a threat to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, it was precisely Ukraine that began active military actions against the DPR’s economic potential. Leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Denis Pushilin stated that "Ukraine continues to ignore the peaceful process of settling the conflict. Moreover, constant artillery provocations have increased along the entire line of military engagement." Media outlets in Donbass report repeated shelling of local mines and residential buildings.

Donbass militia veteran and blogger Vladlen Tatarsky thinks that Kiev will soon use drones on a massive scale, launching grenades at mass gathering sites, noting that it was still unclear how to counteract this threat. Lieutenant General Yuri Netkachev told the newspaper that "the military tactics of the Ukrainian army’s subunits depend on the experience of using high-precision weapons that were directed against Yugoslavia’s industrial potential and its army by NATO forces when they were preparing to occupy Kosovo."

The expert noted that at the end of September, Kiev would hold joint drills with 15 NATO countries and partners. "Romanian and Slovak army helicopters are going to be used, aircraft from Canada, armored vehicles from Slovakia and ships from Romania, about 85 tanks, roughly 50 heavy artillery systems, and 30 aircraft, including strike drones. In preparation for [the drills], the modern approaches of using NATO militaries, experience from recent armed conflicts, including the war in Donbass, were employed," the expert noted.


Izvestia: Medical gurus highlight new strains of coronavirus

The experts of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing told the newspaper about coronavirus strains currently circulating in Russia. As of September 2021, the Delta strain is the one dominating, including some lines branched from it. The same subtypes are being rapidly spread in the UK, Australia, Monaco and other countries. As for the properties of these subtypes, it is possible to say that they are just as contagious as the Delta, but, they are not any different from the point of view of immunology. Medical professionals assert that vaccines will remain effective while any detailed information about the specific properties of new subtypes will become available with time.

Anna Speranskaya, who heads the group for genomics and post-genomic studies at the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing, explained that the Delta variant is the main one with several branches, "named B.1.617.2.1, B.1.617.2.2, B.1.617.2.3 (and so on until B.1.617.2.25). It is also possible to encounter alternative names of the same branches: AY.1, AY.2 (and so on until AY.25)." The branches spread in Russia actively "occupy" other countries. The first AY.4 virus was detected last September while by now there have been 242,600 samples recorded which makes up 8% of the total amount of sequences according to the web portal. "Among European countries this variant prevails in the UK. There is also a lot of it in Australia," Speranskaya said.

Director of Kazan Federal University’s Research Clinical Center for Precision and Regenerative Medicine Albert Rizvanov told the newspaper that there hasn’t yet been any data on the differences of the properties of the AY.4 and AY.12 new lines from the initial Delta strain. He added that they are being spread faster than the Delta in some countries, so that may spotlight their strength.

Head of the genome engineering lab at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology Pavel Volchkov pointed out that there haven’t been any detailed studies of the new strain yet, while there is a general understanding that this strain and its sublines are more contagious and continue to spread worldwide.

The Central Research Institute of Epidemiology of the Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights explained that currently the analysis and monitoring of the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 variants is conducted according to data received by the VGARus (Virus Genome Aggregator of Russia) portal. This resource was registered in June 2021. Currently, over two dozen Russian research institutions upload the sequences of SARS-CoV-2 there. As of early September, the portal had over 25,000 sequences of full genomes and the fragments of the S-protein gene.


Rossiyskaya Gazeta: Chinese cars conquer Russian market

Chinese automobiles will double their presence on the Russian market from 3% to 6% by New Year’s, car dealers forecast. Chinese automotive products are strengthening their positions, while the deficit of European and American models are slowing their sales.

"Chinese brands are growing better than anyone in comparison with last year above all because of accessibility," Director General of the Fresh Auto network Denis Migal explained. The best dynamics are being demonstrated by Chery. Igor Morzharetto, an auto expert and a partner at the Avtostat analytical agency says that the three-fold growth in the sales of this brand has been observed for several months. By the end of August, the company had taken eighth place among all brands for the first time ever. Other Chinese brands, such as Haval and Geely, are also gaining popularity in Russia.

While Chinese cars are a long way off from conquering the market, they have significantly bosltered their positions. Consumers gave high marks to their trim levels, additionally, the Chinese auto industry is not impacted by the problems with semi-conductor supplies, since China itself is the world leader in this sphere. "China produces about 60% of the entire chip production. First of all, of course, they satisfy the needs of their producers, and lastly those of the US," Morzharetto noted.

Delays in the deliveries of chips are still impacting the automotive market with some models still being scarce. According to Vladimir Miroshnikov of Rolf, the best dynamics have been demonstrated by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, as well as by KIA, Toyota, Volkswagen and the Ford line, while the sales of Genesis, Jaguar, Mitsubishi and Nissan have decreased. The sales dynamics are determined by the accessibility of automobiles. Marketing Director at Avilon motor group Andrei Kamensky pointed out that the sales of luxury cars have been affected the most by the shortages of microchips and semi-conductors. The lack of automobiles impacts price growth. Over the year, new European and American vehicles rose on average 20% in price, which resulted in Chinese cars becoming more competitive price-wise.

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